Pubdate: Thu, 19 Oct 2017
Source: Observer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017, Sarnia Observer
Author: Neil Bowen
Page: A1


After admitting the medicinal pot in his possession had been illegally
supplemented by some non-medicinal pot, a Sarnia man again pleaded
guilty Wednesday to drug possession - but to a different judge.

These "additional facts" temporarily put to rest a legal conundrum and
likely a Canadian first - whether a lawful prescription becomes
unlawful due to use - that delayed a decision on the drug possession
charge originally expected in August.

Anthony Francis Barr, 27, of St. Clair Township near Sarnia, had
previously pleaded guilty to both driving while impaired and to
possessing marijuana. While convicted and fined $1,000 for the
impaired driving charge by Justice Mark Hornblower, Barr's
prescription for marijuana to deal with an anxiety condition made the
possession charge hazier.

On Wednesday, Hornblower cleared up his position on this point of law,
finding the marijuana possession lawful and rejecting Barr's guilty

In his ruling, Hornblower cited a Supreme Court decision regarding a
credit card that found there was no reason the possession of items
cannot become unlawful when involved in a crime. In that case,
however, the defendant never had lawful possession of the card while
Barr had lawful possession of the marijuana, Hornblower said.

But federal prosecutor Michael Robb questioned if all of the marijuana
found in Barr's possession had been legally obtained. While current
regulations require medical marijuana to be kept in a
supplier-labelled bag, Barr had 18 grams of marijuana in three
unlabelled bags.

"There is a case to be made about the source," said. Robb, who called
for a trial

Because of Robb's contention there was an evidentiary basis for the
charge, Hornblower agreed the case must proceed but recused himself.

Because Barr wanted to resolve the charge immediately, the case was
transferred to a different courtroom and a different judge.

Barr pleaded guilty before Justice Deborah Austin.

As Barr entered the plea, he acknowledged he had supplemented his
prescription marijuana through an unlawful source.

"It is not right," said Barr, referring to a public perception that
medical marijuana use made him an addict.

Austin imposed a $100 fine because of the marijuana's association with
Barr's impaired driving.

During Barr's previous appearance in August, Robb had acknowledged he
had no case law supporting the contention that possession of the
marijuana became illegal because Barr was using it as he drove.

The new marijuana legislation for Ottawa's planned legalization of
recreational pot use, starting a little less than a year from now,
considers the legality of marijuana in such circumstances just like
that of alcohol, Robb said at the time.

Transporting sealed booze in a vehicle is legal, but having open
alcohol - and consuming it - as you drive, are not.

On April 12, Barr was driving on the St. Clair Parkway south of Sarnia
when he passed five vehicles while approaching a curve. Barr's vehicle
was stopped by concerned OPP officers, who smelled fresh and burnt
marijuana in the vehicle.

Barr told officers he'd smoked two bowls of marijuana since leaving
work 30 minutes before he was stopped.

Barr's prescription allowed him to use between 1.5 and three grams
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